Throughout this year I've teamed up with the Memory Box Network and Balhousie Care Home Group to pioneer a study in Exercise with Reminiscence. We just started delivering the course last week and it's a tremendous joy to finally put all the planning into action.
This study has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund to gain insight into the difficulties of exercising for people with dementia. Much is known about the benefits of exercise to delay the onset of dementia, but very little about the struggle to maintain strength and mobility for clients living with this condition.
The Memory Box Network is a Dundee based charity which uses Reminiscence techniques to improve the lives of dementia sufferers and their loved ones. They use a central pot of memory prompts to provide conversational starting points. In their words, "Reminiscence helps those with dementia know that they are not being left behind. The importance of feeling that they are still part of the world and contributing to the life of their family and friends cannot be underestimated."
Although it's still early days, the hope is that new exercise techniques will be developed which allow clients to take part even when they may not remember the previous classes they have had. Thanks to the Memory Box Network, the exercises have been combined with a story thread which makes it easier for clients to understand the moves. This means that clients with dementia do not need to build on knowledge they had learned the previous week and can approach each session anew.
The study has been developed throughout the course of 2016 and will now run for three months in Dundee with support from the Balhousie Care Group. If it can be proven that clients engage with this type of exercise and return week after week, the hope is that further funding can be sought to measure the changes achieved by this brand new type of class.
I've worked for many years with frail and elderly adults, and there's a challenge when I'm combining clients with dementia with participants who have other age related conditions. It's also easy to forget that somebody who suffers with dementia may have other aches and pains which they find difficult to explain. You all know how much I love to see people enjoying exercise and I'm hoping that the study will demonstrate that we can achieve fitness gains regardless of the circumstances.
If you'd like to know more about the Memory Box Network, go to http://memoryboxnetwork.org/
(Remember to) Enjoy Good Health!